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FOMC minutes, plus Lowe's and Target report earnings: What to know in markets Wednesday

Heidi Chung

Investors will be paying close attention to quarterly results from home improvement chain Lowe’s (LOW) and big box retail giant Target (TGT) as well as the Federal Open Market Committee’s (FOMC) meeting minutes in a busy Wednesday.

Target provided a financial update April 23, so investors expect few surprises when it reports results for its first quarter. At the time of the update, Target said that same-store sales rose 7% and digital sales jumped 100%. Food, beverage and essentials rose 20% compared to the same period last year, partially offsetting 20% declines in apparel and accessories.

People wearing masks avoid social distancing as they wait in line to enter Target in Herald Square amid the coronavirus pandemic on May 16, 2020 in New York City. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

The retailer is expected to report adjusted earnings of 45 cents per share on $18.75 billion in revenue. Target’s earnings comes on the heels of rival Walmart’s blockbuster first-quarter report Tuesday morning.

Walmart (WMT) saw 10% same-store sales growth in the U.S. and e-commerce sales surged 74% amid the COVID-19 outbreak. While average ticket size grew 16.5%, traffic declined 5.6% — indicating that customers were visiting less frequently but were stocking up at each visit.

“As a result of the health crisis and related stay-at-home mandates, customers consolidated store shopping trips with larger average baskets and shifted more purchases to eCommerce,” Walmart said in a statement.

Despite the global pandemic, both Walmart and Target stock outperformed the broader market this year. Walmart stock surged 9% in 2020, while Target fell 2% and the S&P 500 (^GSPC) tumbled nearly 8% during the same time period.

Home improvement chain Lowe’s is scheduled to release its first-quarter results before the market open. The company is expected to report adjusted earnings of $1.29 per share on $18.29 billion in revenue. Same-store sales in the U.S. are estimated to have jumped 5.6%.

Lowe’s report comes follows Home Depot’s first quarter earnings report released Tuesday morning. Home Depot missed earnings estimates for the first time since 2014 as costs related to the coronavirus outweigh sales gains seen during the period. “We took early and decisive action to intentionally limit
customer traffic in our stores which we believe had a significant impact to sales in many markets,” said CEO Craig Menear said Tuesday.

Home Depot’s average check size grew 11% even as transactions fell 3.9% during the quarter.

Other notable earnings reports scheduled for Wednesday include Expedia (EXPE) and Take-Two Interactive (TTWO) after the market close.

Meanwhile, following Fed Chair Jerome Powell’s testimony in front of Congress Tuesday, the FOMC will be releasing its late-April meeting minutes Wednesday afternoon.

Economists largely expect that the minutes will not provide any fresh clues on the Fed’s next moves. “The minutes are likely to strike a gloomy note, with many Fed officials publicly becoming more downbeat about the prospects for a speedy economic recovery. But with the situation developing so rapidly, much of the discussion will be badly out of date,” Capital Economics wrote in a note Friday.

Powell and the Fed have been operating in “real time” to the evolving COVID-19 situation, according to RBC Capital. “Few of the big announcements (and musings for that matter) have come at any recent FOMC meeting. So these Minutes are unlikely to reveal much in the way of new insights. Indeed, Powell just spoke recently, which on some level preempted these Minutes. His tone leaned on the somber side with regard to the challenges ahead faced by the economy, we would expect a similar tone to be revealed [in the minutes],” the firm said.

Heidi Chung is a reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter: @heidi_chung.

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